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Quilapayún, Ambassadors Without a Country
FuenteRevista Ramparts FechaMayo 1975 PaísEEUU
Edición transcrita

When the Allende government was overthrown in September 1973, the musical group “Quilapayún” (“The Bearded Ones”) was in France, in the midst of a European concert tour. Had they been in Chile at the time of the coup, they would certainly have been thrown into jail, or killed, as Víctor Jara their musical director had been. Once cultural ambassadors of the Allende government, they are nos emissaries of truth, spreading word of the Chilean junta’s unrelenting brutality and garnering support to bring it down.

On march 14, 1975, the Sate Department denied visas to Quilapayún, labeling them “undesirable visitor to U.S.” But only two weeks before, the Immigration Department had granted them visas as “Distinguished Artists.” According to sources in Washington, Quilapayún’s adversary in the State Department was Harry Shlaudeman, currently U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, but second in command of the U.S. embassy in Chile during the Allende years. Shlaudeman had apparently gone out of his way to block their entry into the U.S., fearing perhaps the same kind of reaction here tat they had recently generated in Caracas, Venezuela, before a fervent crowd of 11,000. But congressmen, national political organizations and citizens pressured the State Department to back down. On March 21, Quilapayún left Paris for the U.S., and appeared before sellout crowds on both coasts.

Quilapayún reflects the powerful Latin American folk music of the Andes and the hight plains. Their songs range from unrelenting, early “zambas” to soft, tragic sonnets of despair. They sing sons infused with revolutionary spirit as well as salt-of-the-earth Spanish and Cuban ballads. The seven musicians incorporate the poems of Pablo Neruda and Víctor Jara set to the beat of guitars, pan-pipes, “zampones,” “sinus,” and “charangos.”

Quilapayún inspires the hope that Chile will free itself of the junta’s iron control. And until then, they intend to spread the tragic story of Chile throughout the world, ambassadors without a country.

Rob Fruchtman

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Rob Fruchtman